Trade war

WASHINGTON/Beijing – The United States voiced willingness on Wednesday to negotiate a resolution to an escalating trade fight with China after Beijing retaliated against proposed US tariffs on $US50 billion ($F102b) in Chinese goods by targeting key American imports, but the Chinese ambassador to Washington said it “takes two to tango.”

Just 11 hours after President Donald Trump’s administration proposed 25 per cent tariffs on some 1300 Chinese industrial, technology, transport and medical products, China shot back with a list of similar duties on major American imports including soybeans, planes, cars, beef and chemicals.

Beijing’s swift and forceful response raised the prospect of a quickly spiralling dispute between the world’s two economic superpowers that could harm the global economy.

While Mr Trump posted defiant messages on Twitter, his administration signalled possible wiggle room.

Asked whether the US tariffs announced on Tuesday may never go into effect and may be a negotiating tactic, Mr Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told reporters: “Yes, it’s possible. It’s part of the process.”

He called the announcements by the two countries mere opening proposals.

Mr Kudlow later told Fox News Channel: “I don’t think it’s a trade war. I think there is going to be intense negotiations on both sides.

“I think we’re going to come to agreements,” he said, adding that “I believe that the Chinese will back down and will play ball.”

Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States, held an hour-long meeting at the US State Department in Washington with acting Secretary of State John Sullivan.

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